Taylors Beach to Burrum Heads
We’ve had a reasonably quiet week. David and I left Taylors Beach on Thursday morning and headed for Nome which is just south of Townsville. I had a doctor’s appointment along the way to try to sort out what was wrong with my shoulder. From there we went on to our friends, Lou and Armando, at Nome. We were looking forward to spending time with them. Lou and I have been friends since we were about six years old so it was a special time. They were cane farmers for many years but have retired now and live at the most amazing place perched right up on top of a hill with incredible 360 degree views. After lunch David and I had to go back into town so that I could have a scan and x-ray of my shoulder.
David, Armando & the view What a home! David, Jen, Lou & Armando
Rain set in overnight and in the next 24 hours we had just over three inches of rain – most welcome. We went out on Friday afternoon to look at our old house where we lived from 1973 to 1983. It looked great but has changed quite a bit since we lived there. We also checked out Wulguru State Primary School where our boys all began their school life and also Wulguru Uniting Church where we worshipped for ten years. On then to the doctor to get the results of the scan. I have a partial tear of the rotator cuff so she suggested that I try to see a physiotherapist at our next port of call. We then caught up with some other old friends, Ian and Jean. David navigated for Ian in many rallies when we lived in North Queensland and they also competed in the 1979 Repco Round Australia Trial so there were many stories told and much laughter. At night we went out to the Alligator Creek Bowls Club for dinner with Lou and Armando and their friends and thoroughly enjoyed our evening.
Our home 1973-1983 Wulguru State School Wulguru Uniting Church
Sadly we had to leave our friends on Saturday morning. We were meeting up with Di and Ron at our nephew’s place in Townsville. It was nice to spend a couple of hours with Andy, Alicia and Harrison before heading for an overnight stop at a free camp at Guthalungra (north of Bowen). There were plenty of other vans there and it was well set up for camping. Our next port of call was Mackay. The skies had cleared overnight and it was a beautiful day. We arrived at the caravan park about mid-day. Had a visit during the afternoon from my cousin Joe who we’d tried to see in Cairns but he was away then. I don’t think we’d seen each other for about 40 years but we found plenty to talk about. Sunday night was spent with another old friend, Gail, from our Townsville days. The four of us went and had dinner with her. I then spent quite a bit of time with her on Monday. David took the chance to stay at the van and have a lazy day while Di and Ron explored Mackay. Physio in the afternoon but it ended up being a short appointment. She thinks I now need to have a scan of my neck as the symptoms I’ve been experiencing made her think I may have an issue with a disc and she didn’t want to risk causing any further damage. I’ll leave it until we get home now as long as it doesn’t get any worse. We did a tour of the port after my appointment. David was amazed at the changes since he was involved in shipping here. Mackay is a lovely town – another place to put on our list of places to live!
Sunset, not fire, at Guthalungra Whistling Ducks Mackay – ships at anchor
We had a short trip today, only 120 kilometres, to a place called Clairview. We are free camping by the beach tonight and have spent a few hours sitting around a campfire. Such luxury! It was hard to pack up and leave on Wednesday. Not a lot to report for the day – we moved on to another free camp, this time at Benaraby just south of Gladstone. The local councils have gone to a lot of trouble to set up areas for free camping and it certainly benefits them as most people spend time and money in their towns. We decided while there that we’d head next to Burrum Heads to spend a few days there before bring our trip to an end.
Tide’s out at Clairview! A new day dawning!
The weather was reasonable when we arrived here and we all enjoyed a walk along the waterfront later in the day. It’s lovely to see the pelicans swimming by and boats anchored in the river. We woke on Friday to clouds and managed to get a walk in before the rain started. That’s pretty much what we’ve had ever since – rain! Went for a drive to Hervey Bay later in the day and had a good look around there. Otherwise we’ve mostly had a lazy time. This morning Di and Ron packed up and left for home as they have a meeting to go to tomorrow. If the weather had been better they would have returned on Monday but it’s really not worth it the way things are.
Pelicans – I love them! Burrum River at dusk
That’s it for now. We’ll be home again soon so the next post will be a wrap up and then it will be back to the usual routines. We’re looking forward to seeing family and friends again.
Cooktown to Ingham
We spent another day in Cooktown. Visited the James Cook Museum which is run by the National Trust and is very well kept. One of the anchors and one of the cannons from the Endeavour are in the museum. They were amongst the items that were thrown overboard after the ship ran aground, in an effort to lighten it and float it off the reef. They were only recovered in the 1990’s. Lots of other interesting things to be seen as well. In the afternoon we drove out to see the Endeavour Falls which were about 30km north of Cooktown. Warnings of crocodiles abounded but we didn’t see any! The falls were lovely. Ron, Di and I had a wander around the local cemetery later on. One finds out a lot of history from such places so they are always interesting. Had a very windy and wet night so we were pleased to find everything still in one piece the next morning.
Anchor from Endeavour James Cook Museum Endeavour Falls
On Thursday morning we went our separate ways. Di and Ron were going to spend a few days at Mena Creek with some friends and we were heading up to Laura. We left our van at the caravan park at Lakeland Downs and just did a day trip up to Laura. On the way we stopped off to look at the Split Rock Aboriginal Rock Art site. It was a very steep climb up to the first site but was worthwhile to do. There were three different sites – Split Rock, Flying Fox and Tall Spirits and each with different types of paintings. On then to the small town of Laura and a further 28kms to see Old Laura Homestead. It is deserted now but it was good to look around. Lunch at Laura after that and then back to Lakeland Downs.
Split Rock Art Site Laura River Old Laura Homestead
As I had a physiotherapy appointment in Atherton on Friday afternoon we moved on to stay at the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park just outside Atherton. It is a free camp and there would have been close to a hundred vans there – a great spot. Saw the physio who suggested I see a doctor when we get to Townsville then try to get a scan done, so that might change our plans a little but we’ll wait and see. The next morning we drove down to Cairns via Kuranda and enjoyed seeing the rich farming lands and beautiful scenery. We spent the afternoon visiting David’s cousin Celeste and her husband Ian and had a lovely time with them. Drove into the CBD after that to try to find ANL’s old office and wharf where David spent many hours when he was still working for ANL and we eventually succeeded. Then we went to The Esplanade and circled the area a few times before we finally found a place to park. It’s a bit like the waterfront at Surfers Paradise or Noosa – incredibly busy. It was nice to stroll along beside the water while enjoying an icecream!
Some of the vans at Rocky Creek View from Kuranda Range
We had planned to move on to Hull Heads near Tully on Sunday but thanks to the luxury of having our “home on wheels” with us were able to change our plans easily. We’d enjoyed a leisurely drive from Cairns, stopped in a Babinda for a delicious coffee, then detoured to drive past Paronella Park which I had first visited in 1964 and we’d then returned with our boys in 1983. It’s a “castle” which was built between 1929 and 1935 by Jose Paronella for his bride Margarita. It has had quite a history since then and now thanks to fire, floods and three cyclones is in a rather poor state. Anyway, after talking to the owner we decided to book in to the caravan park there and stay overnight. We did a guided tour in the afternoon and learnt lots about the history of the place and then later on did the night-time tour which focussed more on lighting up various parts of the old buildings. Both were very enjoyable.
Mena Creek Ruins of refreshment Rooms Ruins of “The Castle” + David!
As it happened, Di and Ron were staying just two kilometres from where we were, so we met up with them after leaving the park and drove down to Taylors Beach. We had another easy day with a few stops along the way. We checked out the Big Gumboot in Tully then drove out to Tully Heads and Hull Heads – both nice little beachside places. The drive down through Cardwell was interesting as when we were here two years ago there was much evidence of the damage that that been from Cyclone Yasi and also roadworks everywhere. The work on the highway is all finished now and compared to much of the Bruce Highway is wonderful to drive on. We lunched at Cardwell – delicious fresh crab sandwiches. The waitress there told us that Paul Hogan had lunched there the day before and that I was sitting in the chair where he had sat. I can’t say that it was the highlight of my day! Another quick stop at the lookout over the Hinchinbrook Passage – it’s a magnificent view which never fails to impress.Our final stop for the day was at Taylors Beach where Lyndal and Don live. We’ve been able to park both the vans here and will enjoy a few days with family again.
The Big Gumboot Tully Heads Hinchinbrook Passage
We could hardly believe our eyes when we received a photo from Katie (our beautiful housesitter) of six peacocks/hens parading through our backyard on Tuesday morning. She was terrified but we were just sorry that we weren’t there to see them.
Peacock parade at Forest Lake
We’ve spent many hours here at Taylors Beach talking about and laughing over old times and have also fitted in a bit of sightseeing and exercise. Lunched at Forrest Beach on Tuesday and Di, Lyndal and I had a stroll along the beach. The three of us later walked up to Taylors Beach as well. Today we had a very lazy morning before driving back to Cardwell for a long walk before lunch. A fine job has been done in rebuilding along the waterfront.
Forrest Beach Low tide at Taylors Beach
Sailing ship off Cardwell Old tree regenerated after Cyclone Yasi
That brings this episode to a close – only a couple more to go and we should be back home again. Bye until next time.
Georgetown to Cooktown
We were a bit sad to leave Undara after a wonderful couple of days there but Cobbold Gorge was calling us. We stopped in at Mt Surprise for fuel and had planned to buy a coffee but after waiting in the shop for at least ten minutes we gave up as there was no sign of anyone to serve us. A bit further along the road we pulled up at a rest area instead. There was a lovely little billabong just off the road and cattle obviously taking the rest area sign to heart as they were nearly all sitting/lying under the shady trees. The caravan park in Georgetown was almost full when we arrived but thankfully we had booked ahead so had no problem. We all went for a walk up to the town centre after we’d set up. There wasn’t much open though as it was a show holiday for the Charters Towers show (5 hours away!).
The Billabong Cattle at rest
Wednesday morning saw us heading to Cobbold Gorge for the day. We had to traverse 60 kilometres of dirt road to get there but mostly in good condition – just a few corrugations here and there to wake us up. The tour we were doing didn’t start until 1.30 so we had quite a bit of time to fill in which was no trouble at all. Our tour began in a 4 wheel drive bus which took us to just near the start of the gorge that was only discovered in the early 1990’s. From there we spent about an hour and a half walking around the area with the guide hearing about the history of the area and also interesting details about what the local aborigines used various plants for. We then climbed to the top of the gorge to look down to where we would soon go in the boat. There were some great rock formations and sheer drops down into the gorge. After clambering back down it was then time to climb into the boat and to venture into the gorge. The boat had an electric motor so was almost silent and it felt like we were gliding along except for when we hit the sides of the gorge! It was very narrow in places so was a tight squeeze to get through. It was a beautiful place with steep, towering walls, beautiful reflections and several freshwater crocodiles to make it just that little bit more interesting. We loved every minute of it and were so pleased that we’d gone. We arrived back at the caravan park just before 6.00pm and were ready for a quiet evening.
Cobbold Gorge Freshwater crocodile Beautiful reflections
On Thursday morning before leaving Georgetown for Atherton we called at the local butcher to purchase some meat as it had come highly recommended by our friend Russell. The butcher was a lovely fellow so we had quite a chat and a few laughs with him before getting on our way. We had 300km to cover that day so had a few rest breaks along the way. We stopped in at Innot Hot Springs to check out the springs and they were certainly hot. It was impossible to stand in the water which apparently comes out of the ground at 71 degrees Celsius. Next stop was a rest area where there was a lovely little creek burbling along and then we detoured in to Ravenshoe – a nice little town – to get some lunch. We finally arrived at the caravan park in Atherton at 2.30pm to be greeted by David’s and Di’s sister Lyndal and her husband Don. It was great to see them and we were all looking forward to spending a few days together. Plenty of chatter filled in the day once we were set up.
Innot Hot Springs Creek near Innot Hot Springs
Friday was spent looking at some points of interest on the Tablelands. First stop was the Curtain Fig Tree which is thought to be over 500 years old. It is quite a sight to see. Next was the Avenue of Honour at Yungaburra which was established to honour the soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan. It is incredibly moving to see and is a beautiful, peaceful place. We all felt rather subdued when we left there.
Curtain Fig Tree Avenue of Honour
Lake Eacham and Malanda Falls were the last stops of the day. Home then to a magnificent dinner of prawns and barramundi provided by Lyndal and Don. We are certainly doing it tough!
Lake Eacham Malanda Falls
On Saturday we visited Mareeba but on the way stopped off at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park. It was established in 2007 on part of the site where a 3,000 bed hospital was built during World War II. Patients were brought there from all theatres of war in the South West Pacific and between 1943 and 1945 over 60,000 patients were treated. The Atherton Tablelands Area was the largest military base in Australia during that same period and between 200,000 and 300,000 troops were stationed there. It was again a sobering experience to see the memorial and we found plaques for both of our dad’s battalions or divisions. Next stop was the information centre at Mareeba where there is a great museum. After that a tour of Mareeba and then it was back to Atherton.
My Dad’s Battalion Rocky Creek War Memorial
David and I went to church on Sunday morning. It was the first time since we left home that we’d been in a place on a Sunday where there was a church. The others went off to Herberton to visit the Historical Village. We followed on afterwards but decided not to go to the village. Instead we drove around the town looking at the old buildings, found (we think) the house where my sister Barb lived when she taught here in 1972 and also the school. We then went out to Irvinebank which was a very prosperous tin mining town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It’s about 30km from Herberton through very rugged country. We couldn’t help but wonder how anyone ever found their way there and discovered the tin. Nothing much has changed since those days. We were quite taken with the dam which has a log wall. The home of the fellow who established the smelter and owned many of the mines (John Moffat) is now a museum and it was interesting to see through that.
Irvinebank transport Loudon Dam John Moffat’s home
On Monday we said goodbye to Lyndal and Don and then we set off for Cooktown. We had a good trip and are now settled in here for a few days. On our first full day here we just looked around the town. Looked at various things to do with Captain Cook’s enforced stay in 1770 while the Endeavour was repaired, checked out the lighthouse at Grassy Hill (it was for sale when I was last here in 1986!), Finch Bay, stories of miners who came here for the Palmer River goldrush, the Endeavour River and a few other things. We quite like what we’ve seen of Cooktown but don’t think we’ll be moving here any time soon!
Endeavour River Captain James Cook Lighthouse at Grassy Hill
More on Cooktown next time but for now I’ll finish and get this posted.
Cania Gorge to Undara
We departed from Cania Gorge on Sunday July 20 and our main aim was to get to Charters Towers by Wednesday. Our first day was fairly uneventful and we overnighted at Dingo. The caravan park was fine but not much else could be said for Dingo! On Tuesday we went as far as Clermont but detoured in to Fairbairn Dam for a morning tea stop. We were joined by some very inquisitive lorikeets. They took great delight in picking at our food on the table and squabbling with each other over who should get to eat the food. Ron stood guard over one who was being bullied by the most dominant one and it was funny to watch. We were last at the dam in 2011 just after the flood and at that time the water was lapping over the spillway. Now it is about 10 metres below. We’ve seen evidence of the lack of rain all around the countryside as everything is extremely dry.
Lorikeets at lunch Fairbairn Dam Birdlife at the dam
We had planned to spend the night at Theresa Creek Dam which we’d heard about along the way but the camping area was unpowered and as the expected overnight low was to be 0 degrees we opted for the caravan park in Clermont instead. I’ve been quite unwell since leaving home so didn’t like the idea of freezing. We all liked Clermont and enjoyed having a look around before leaving for Charters Towers the next morning. From there we drove out to Theresa Creek Dam to see what we’d missed out on. It’s a beautiful place and we plan to go back one day to spend some time there.
Theresa Creek Dam My favourite birds
Our final night before getting to Charters Towers was spent at Belyando Crossing (population 5!). Vans on the powered sites were packed in in four rows with three vans one behind the other. The middle van had no hope of going anywhere unless the one in front or behind left! We quite enjoyed the experience though – everyone was very friendly and talkative.
Belyando Crossing – packed in like sardines!
Towers Hill Lookout
We had a good run to Charters Towers on Wednesday and soon settled in to the park there. We opted to stay at the Big 4 Park and it was a lovely spot to be. Took a trip in to town later in the day for me to go to the doctor and also to go to the Information Centre where we hired a CD to use the next day to do a tour of the town and surrounding area. We checked out the fully restored Stock Exchange building before returning to the park to join with dozens of others for bangers and mash. Thursday saw us touring the area. The CD was great to have and gave us lots of information about mining in the district and the early settlers. We visited the Family History Centre to try to find out some information about David’s and Di’s grandparents – Allen and Sofia (Baglini) Guyatt. Their grandfather was a miner here in the late 1890’s and their grandmother was originally a housekeeper for her brother until she and Allen married. We found what we think was their house but who would really know! Charters Towers has changed a lot since we lived in Townsville from 1973 to 1983 and is quite a prosperous looking town now. The climate is lovely at this time of year – so much so that David is threatening to winter here each year!
Is this Grandpa’s house? The Stock Exchange The World Theatre
Friday was moving day again with just an overnight stop at Greenvale. When we lived in Townsville it was known for its nickel mine but that has long since closed down and not a lot remains. It was interesting to visit though and to have a walk around the town. These days it is famous for its sausage trees and not much else! That is not strictly true as there is still some nickel being mined around the place. The caravan park was quite pleasant and was well patronised when we there. It was also the home of hundreds of galahs making a lot of noise.
Roses at Greenvale The Sausage Tree Galahs everywhere!
We arrived at Undara about midday and we were all excited to be here. It’s been on my list of places to visit for many years so couldn’t believe that we were finally here. The Collins family who own this place settled here in 1862 and six generations of the family have lived here since. The Undara Experience was opened to visitors in 1990. We had a quiet afternoon and evening before joining a singsong around the campfire after dinner. There have been several highlights for us here. We did The Archway Explorer guided tour which included visiting three of the lava tubes. They were amazing to see and we enjoyed hearing the history of how they were formed. Our fitness was tested as there were about 250 stairs to climb.
Entrance to a lava tube The Archway Patterns in the roof of the arch
Later in the afternoon we did a bushwalk to The Bluff then continued on a circuit which brought us back to the park. More climbing hills and stairs but some great views made it worthwhile. There is a huge flat area nearby named the Hundred Mile Swamp. It was so named because it is 100 miles from Cardwell which was the major town in the north in the 1800’s and the road connected the two places. After dinner we joined in a trivia night around the campfire which was a bit of fun.
Grevillea in flower at the park View from The Bluff David on the rocky path
The third highlight was a drive to the Kalkani Crater followed by a 2.5km walk up to the crater and around the rim. Again it was quite a steep climb and a rough, rocky walk around the rim but certainly worth the effort. There are numerous extinct volcanoes in this area and many of them were visible in the distance. When we lived in PNG in the 1970’s we climbed three volcanoes so it was interesting to do so again.
Walking around the rim Volcanoes in the distance Almost down!
David spent quite a while after we came home fixing a problem with our gas stove top as we were unable to get it to light. It involved pulling the whole thing out and making do with, amongst other things, a paper clip to fix the problem. He and Ron got it sorted and all is well again. Clever boys!
Each site here has it’s own fireplace and barbecue so we made good use of them tonight and cooked and ate a yummy dinner before heading to the communal fireplace again for another trivia night. It’s been a fabulous experience being here but all good things come to an end and tomorrow we move on to Georgetown where there is sure to be much more to see and do.
That’s it for this week.
Brisbane to Cania Gorge
Having been home for 8 months from our trip around Australia we were getting itchy feet so decided it was time to hook up the van and head off into the great outdoors again. After a bit of a debate about whether to go north or south the north won out. We set off on Monday morning July 14 to head to Nanango where our niece Caz lives with her family. We met up there with Di and Ron – our travelling companions from last year and again this year. Caz and Andrew have acreage so we were able to stay at their place. David’s and Di’s oldest sister Robin and her husband Bruce (Caz’s parents) had come to stay as well so we enjoyed some lovely family time together. Tuesday morning we wandered the streets of Nanango looking at the historic sites (not very historic!) and did a tour of a lovely old home called Ringsfield House then in the afternoon took a drive to Kingaroy. We checked out a few things there then on the way home drove past Bethany – the home of Joh and Flo. Alas, the tours are only available two days a week, so no pumpkin scones for us! We packed up on Wednesday morning and said goodbye to Caz, Andrew and Lily. It was great to stay with them and we’ll be back another day.
Ringsfield House Kingaroy looking to the Bunyas
We had a leisurely drive on Wednesday to our next overnight stop which was at Binjour Range Free Camp (17km north of Gayndah). Detoured along the way to the Kinboombi Falls east of Goomeri. Although there wasn’t masses of water flowing over it was still worth seeing. Along the way we passed a road which crossed Guyatt’s Bridge and we’ve since discovered that the road leads to a property owned by distant relatives of our branch of the Guyatt family. After a quick look then around Goomeri we continued on to Gayndah where we had a lunch stop at a pleasant rest area on the river bank. On then to the Binjour Range campsite. We arrived mid afternoon expecting to see a lot of other vans but we were the sole occupants and that is how it stayed. It was a great site and we were able to have a campfire which made it even better. We were thankful for a heavy cloud cover as otherwise it would have been rather chilly.
Kinboombi Falls Self-explanatory! Binjour Range Free Camp
There was a bit of drama on Thursday morning as Ron discovered that the three batteries in his caravan were flat and also the one in his car. The ones in the van were completely dry and it took Ron ages to refill them. We then had to jump start the Prado. Thankfully by the time we reached our next stop at Cania Gorge the batteries were charging nicely. As we only travelled a distance of 170km we had plenty of time to have a look at Eidsvold and then Monto where we stopped for lunch before arriving at Cania Gorge at 2 o’clock. It’s a lovely place and it’s nice to be back here again. We were last here three years ago with our friends Bruce and Gail Mc Cubben. A lazy afternoon was in order, our only exertion after setting up being to participate in the bird feeding! King parrots, lorikeets, rosellas, cockatoos and galahs got stuck into it with great gusto. David got the obligatory droppings down the back of his neck! Although we are in a caravan park campfires are permitted so the guys got a fire going and we spent a few hours sitting around that.
Bird feeding at Cania Gorge
It was rather cold overnight so we were all thankful that we had heaters in the vans. It took us a while to get going and to head off to do some walks. Our first stop was at Cania Dam – a pretty spot with nice picnic areas. From there we went to the spot where most of the walks in the gorge begin. We did the Dragon Cave, Bloodwood Cave and Gorge Lookout walks. Lots of uphill and at least a couple of hundred steps but it was worth the effort. We had a lazy afternoon and then just before dark got a fire going again to cook a camp oven dinner. We sat around the fire until we were all nearly frozen and then retired to our vans with the heaters going flat out.
Cania Dam Dragon Cave Bloodwood Cave
Saturday was to be our last full day here so after a leisurely start to the day we decided to do another walk, this time the Two Storey Cave Circuit. We did it when we were here three years ago but were happy to do it again as the cave is pretty impressive. Ron and I climbed up through a hole to the upper storey while David and Di waited below. It’s a bit of a tricky climb but worth the effort. Once we got back to the car we had a cup of coffee before going to do the walk to the Shamrock Mine which came into being sometime before 1870. There wasn’t a lot to see apart from a bit of old machinery and the old mine shaft. Not much else to report for the day apart from having a delicious woodfired pizza for dinner. We enjoyed chatting with a couple from Burpengary over dinner.
King Orchid Crevice Bottom level Two Storey Cave Upper level Two Storey Cave
Tomorrow we move on to Dingo as we head further north and hopefully to some warmer weather.